Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2010 Issue

Uncommon and Inexpensive Books from Peter L. Masi

Masi203

Some of everything from Peter L. Masi Books.


By Michael Stillman

Peter L. Masi Books has released Catalog 203. Masi's catalogues are perennially hard to describe because there seems to be a bit of everything inside. He has broken the listings down by subject, so for example, there are books on agriculture, almanacs, Americana, amusements, architecture, art, and automotive. That's just the A's. There are over 500 items here, and if you want to spend a lot of money, you will have to buy just about all of them. Nothing here is expensive, most being priced in the $8-$25 range. You never know what you will find in these catalogues, but the chances are it will be something uncommon and unexpected. Let's take a look inside.

Item 43 pertains to one of the most sensational murder cases of the 19th century. Dr. George Parkman, a physician and wealthy landowner, as well as uncle to the famous Oregon Trail writer Francis Parkman, disappeared one day. The next time he was seen, he was in pieces, quite literally. A few of those pieces were discovered under the floorboards of the office of Dr. John Webster, a chemistry professor at Harvard. Webster claimed they came from research cadavers, but a dentist identified them as coming from Parkman. Webster had borrowed money from Parkman, secured by a cabinet of minerals he also used as security for another loan. It was after Parkman came to see Webster about this matter that he disappeared. Webster was convicted, and his life ended at the end of a rope. Item 43 is the Soliloquy of Prof. John W. Webster, after the Murder of Dr. Geo. Parkman up to the time of his execution. Written by Mary G. Doe, it provides a rhyming soliloquy of Webster at the gallows, which seems hard to believe he actually said: And now I lean my head, / Upon the gallows high, / And to a gazing throng I say, / I am prepared to die. Priced at $50.

Item 116 is one of those salesman's books, a description of a book along with a how-to sales piece. The book to be sold was Discovery of the North Pole describing Frederick Cook's journey, and there's some irony here in that few people believe any more that Cook discovered the Pole. His claims were not backed up by evidence. The book also explains Robert Peary's journey the following year, the one most often cited as the first to reach the Pole, though his claims have been questioned as well. $10.

Item 264 is The Wonderful Escape, one of many religious works aimed at children offered by Masi, most, like this, from the American Tract Society. This, as are most of these tracts, are horror stories designed to scare children into what they believed to be the right behavior. This one is the story of 12 young men who drink of the evil spirits. Eight end up dead before they are 40, three in poverty, and the ringleader, an infidel who reads Thomas Paine, eventually has a conversion experience, overcomes the demon drink, and lives to write this tale. $8.

Here is a biography of a man who came up with a very clever idea we now take for granted, but solved a problem that at one time wreaked havoc on long-distance travel. Item 329 is Charles F. Dowd, A.M., Ph. D.: A Narrative of His Services in Originating & Promoting The System of Standard Time... The author was Charles N. Dowd (probably his son) and it was published in 1930. The senior Dowd was the guy who came up with the idea of time zones. Before 1883, every community set its own time, likely based on noon coming when the sun was at its high point. This was a particular problem for setting timetables for high speed train travel, as departure and arrival times for each station could be different than what corresponded to a traveler's watch. Very confusing. So, he came up with the idea of large zones where the time in all communities would be the same, followed by another, clearly marked zone where the time was exactly one hour different. It is hard to imagine travel, or telephone, radio, etc., today without Dowd's idea. $20.

Item 54 is The German Conspiracy in American Education, a 1919 book by Gustavus Ohlinger. Ohlinger was himself descended from German immigrants, but was very wary of some others who emigrated from that land, especially more recent arrivals. During the year before America joined the allies in the First World War, he wrote a book challenging the patriotism of this group. He appeared before the Senate attacking the National German-American Alliance. Even after the war, he obviously entertained suspicions, based on this book. The Toledo lawyer and law professor saw a German conspiracy to control American education. $15.

Peter L. Masi Books may be reached at 413-367-2628 or masibook@verizon.net.

You will find many of Peter L. Masi's books listed in "Books For Sale" on this site. Click here.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Copper Printing Plate for "Marshall's Household Engraving of Washington." $500 to $1000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Important Documentary Painting Showing Baseball Great Ty Cobb in Cuba. $1,000 to $2,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> <i>Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age</i>, Inscribed by Bill Wilson. $500 to $1,000
    <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), <i>Prise à l'hameçon.</i> $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Maurice Dufrène (French, 1876-1955), <i>Rayon des Soieries</i>. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> William Pope.L (American, b. 1955), <i>Intimacy Project</i>. $2,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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